Anytime you get three different Triple Crown race winners in a year it spices up racing during the summer. Last year America’s two biggest year end awards, Horse of the Year and 3 Year Old Male of the Year, where locked up as American Pharoah won the Triple Crown. This year those awards as well as many others are completely wide open. Lets take a look at some of the Eclipse Awards and how they will be impacted during the summer months of the year.
Horse of the Year
We’ve been talking about this race for awhile and the anticipation is building…California Chrome vs. Beholder in the Pacific Classic is a likely possibility and could become the race of the year. When thinking about the Horse of the Year that race could go a long way in deciding it, but what about some other races? How about Tepin in the Grade 1 Fourstardave at Saratoga? A win in that spot would give this incredible filly another victory against the males, and in my opinion would give her an honest shot at the award with continued success. Then of course there is Frosted who will have his moment to shine at Saratoga, as well as our three Triple Crown race winners. This award could still take many twists and turns as the summer racing heats up, but as for now all eyes are on California Chrome and Beholder.
You would think California Chrome would have this award in the bag, but Frosted was so good last time out in the Met Mile that he might have thrown his hat into the discussion. Frosted and California Chrome most likely will not face each other until the Breeders Cup Classic, but Frosted can put himself in position to be on close to level terms with Chrome if he can get on a roll at Saratoga and win the Whitney and Woodward Stakes. He’ll still need to beat Chrome in the Classic, but if he flops at Saratoga he won’t even be in the conversation. California Chrome, as previously mentioned, could have a major challenge at Del Mar as a match up with Beholder looms large.
3 Year Old Male
Nyquist is definitely the leader in the club house, but he’s not a lock to win this award. It’s unknown as of now where Nyquist will run next, but it’s widely thought that his two main challengers, Creator and Exaggerator, will be running in the Jim Dandy. Then there is Mohaymen who also will be pointing towards a Saratoga campaign. A head to head win over Nyquist is going to be important for any of these horses, but if one of these can jump up and win the Haskell Stakes and Travers Stakes or the Jim Dandy and Travers things are going to get very interesting.
3 Year Old Female
This all starts with the Coaching Club American Oaks clash between Songbird and Carina Mia. These two are widely regarded as the top two filly’s in the crop on dirt, but you also can’t forget about Cathryn Sophia who is pointing towads the Test Stakes later on in the meet at Saratoga. Then there is the super turf freak Catch a Glimpse who has won eight in a row and also beat the boys this year. Will she point towards a Saratoga race to further her resume? Things are getting awfully top heavy in this division, but a dominant performance or two for Songbird against the crops best horses could make her a strong candidate for the award.
Nobody knows what to make of this division right now but clarity hopefully is on its way this summer. As of now it’s a division without a leader, but hopefully someone will emerge. The key races at Del Mar will be the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes and the Grade 2 Pat O’Brien Stakes. At Saratoga the Grade 1 Vanderbilt Handicap and the Grade 1 King’s Bishop will be critical races that shape the sprint division.
2 Year Old Male and Female
This one goes without saying as most of the top horses in the crop will debut at either Saratoga or Del Mar. Some of the more precocious ones have already debuted, and will run in stakes races early at these two meets as well. American Pharoah debuted and won a stakes at Del Mar two years ago, and Nyquist won a Grade 2 and Grade 1 stakes last year. Also, Preakness winner Exaggerator ran last year at both tracks during the summer.